Using Chain Reactions in Novel Plotting: The Perception Effect

Books Falling Like Dominoes

I heard an anecdote by an Amish farmer at a conference last week that instantly made me think of novel plotting. While not the goal of his presentation, it certainly inspired this writer’s imagination and made me consider how I could apply such subtle chain reactions to Amish Wavingmy writing.

A local citizen outside of the Amish community recently complained to the speaker that the Amish aren’t as friendly as they once were. The drivers in their buggies don’t even wave anymore when they pass. Relieved to hear the reason, the farmer quickly set his acquaintance straight. The local Amish no longer wave to Ohio motorists as a safety precaution. So many drivers are talking on their cell phones or into earpieces that the Amish are afraid to become another distraction. A sudden movement , such as a hand wave, in a distracted driver’s peripheral vision could result in their car wrapped around a tree.

Now, some of you may think this Amish community is being a tad over-cautious, particularly if you’re one of the multi-taskers the farmer referred to, but safety statistics aren’t important. I’m not concerned with facts no matter how well documented. Perception is the key here. Regardless of whether it is sensible, perception drives people’s choices in reality and novels. (more…)